GM's off – and Barra's driving (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Of two immediately obvious facts about Mary Barra, chief executive elect at General Motors, the more interesting is not that she is a woman but that she is a company “lifer”.
To my mind, GM looks as though it is signalling that it has turned the corner following the trauma of government bailout, just as Citigroup did when it appointed career insider Michael Corbat as chief executive last year. Read more
Detroit’s bankruptcy has many implications, but for Reid Hoffman it will reinforce the cautionary metaphor in his 2012 book The Start-Up of You: “When it comes to your career . . . you may be heading down the same path as Detroit.”
In Jo Nesbo’s thriller Headhunters, “king of the heap” search consultant Roger Brown has to fund his extravagant lifestyle by stealing art from the walls of candidates’ homes while his colleagues are interviewing them.
The dismal performance of Facebook’s initial public offering, after several years in which it was expected to crown the emergence on public markets of social networks, is bound to dampen the mood in Silicon Valley.
Paul Graham, who runs Y Combinator, a start-up incubator, says the effect will be what you might expect – early-stage valuations will suffer. His email to portfolio companies, obtained by Business Insider, contains this warning:
“If you haven’t raised money yet, lower your expectations for fundraising. How much should you lower them? We don’t know yet how hard it will be to raise money or what will happen to valuations for those who do. Which means it’s more important than ever to be flexible about the valuation you expect and the amount you want to raise (which, odd as it may seem, are connected). First talk to investors about whether they want to invest at all, then negotiate price.”
The 137 per cent surge in LinkedIn’s shares on the first day of trading – on a stock that was initially priced at 17 times last year’s estimated sales – is pretty much impossible to justify on normal financial measures and has led to talk of a new internet bubble.
I will not try to justify it because, as I wrote the other day in a column, valuing social networks is inherently a highly risky business – there is a history of others such as Friendster, Bebo and MySpace flaming out despite high initial hopes.
Meanwhile, I agree with John Plender’s doubts about the dual share structure being adopted by networks including LinkedIn and Renren, which insures that the founders retain control while selling shares to the public.
Yet there are at least good reasons to believe that LinkedIn is a proper business – with more potential staying power than some of the consumer-oriented social networks. Whatever it is worth, I am at least hopeful that it will stick around. Read more